Gibson speaks; Nat’l Grid pays attention

KINDERHOOK—Representatives from National Grid attended the in-person Village Board meeting Wednesday, July 14 to explain plans for the electric power transformer bank recently installed on a pole on Hudson Street and the overall plan for upgrading the voltage in some parts of the village.

Mayor Dale Leiser announced at the beginning of the meeting, held at the firehouse, that “Zoom is done.” The board had been hosting on-line meetings using Zoom software, but since the governor did not extend the executive order on open meetings law allowing municipalities to hold remote meetings, the village will have to return to in-person meetings going forward.

Over half the people attending the meeting were the residents affected by the platform-mounted ratio transformer bank that was attached on poles in front of the home of former Congressman Chris Gibson and Mary Gibson, who were both at the July 14 meeting. Three representatives from National Grid, including the company’s Hudson engineer, Serena Hazzard, explained the reason for the large transformer platform on the pole and the plan to have it removed eventually.

They said the company plans to add more transformers further down Hudson Street just outside the village.

The National Grid representatives talked about upgrading the primary voltage in the village and making all the feeders in the village the same voltage class. Doing this means, according to information from National Grid, that feeders:

* Carry more power on the same conductor

* Cover a “much wider area and more customers”

* Increase reliability when all feeders are the same voltage class.

The company representatives presented maps with the current system showing that some of the voltage is at the lower rate (4.8kV) and a map of the new plan to move both the transformer on Hudson Street and a pad-mounted transformer on Kinderhook Street, and instead have new, single mounted transformers on and near McCagg Road, just outside the village.

Ms. Hazzard explained that this may take more than a year but she said that this project is a priority and said of moving the transformer within about a year, “that’s fast.”

Mr. Gibson asked Ms. Hazzard for a letter assuring him that the transformer is being moved and explaining her logic. Ms. Hazzard explained that she was a “small cog” in a big machine. Mr. Gibson said he was asking for a letter from the representatives at the meeting, saying that he would take the issue as high as it needs to go.

‘We have not been communicated to.’

Former U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson

Kinderhook resident

Bob Shevy, also from National Grid, said that the company can put a letter together, saying that it would most likely come from his boss’s boss.

“We have not been communicated to,” Mr. Gibson, now the president of Siena College, told the company representatives about the project. He stressed that the residents wanted to get to a place of trust. Other residents pointed out that the company had come in to do work and never notified the community, including the Village Board.

Resident Warren Applegate said at the meeting that he can see the transformer from several rooms of his house and said that it had reduced the value of his property.

“We looked out our windows one day and… trucks were here,” Mr. Applegate said, adding that the transformer going up was “a fait accompli.”

Ms. Hazzard did say she inherited the project from a different engineer and that she would make sure it doesn’t happen like this again. She and her supervisor, who was also at the meeting, stressed several times that the project was about reliability and better service. If the transformer on Hudson Street is taken out now it will mean that when there is an outage in that area it will take longer for service to come back on some streets in the village including William.

Mary Gibson said she understood why the work needed to be done. And Mr. Gibson pointed out that if the company had explained all this first “there would have been more buy in.”

Board member Dorene Weir asked Mr. Shevy for updates on the work every two weeks. Ms. Hazzard also said she would put together a timeline.

After the representatives from the National Grid left the meeting, the board voted to approve the option to move the transformer bank on Hudson and Kinderhook streets outside the village.

Also at the meeting:

* The board passed a resolution to ask the state to reduce the speed limit on several roads in the village. Some are state and county routes as well as village roads. State Trooper Sergeant James Horton attended the meeting and said that the troopers are “out there working everyday” but they would step-up efforts in the village, where they have a trooper substation in the village hall

* The board also discussed new businesses coming to town and the outreach Economic Development Director Renee Shur plans to attract more people from the Capital Region. She also said she was looking for ideas of ways to connect with their sister village of Buren in the Netherlands

* Building Inspector Peter Bujanow said there was an issue with property owners starting and sometimes completing projects before getting permits and he suggested a penalty fee. The board approved funding that will result in putting the village zoning code online and accessible to residents. The board decided to put the code online and then set a grace period for the penalties for work started without a permit

* Jennifer Ose-MacDonald, who is upgrading the Dutch Inn building, asked the board about an email she sent to them in June suggesting they extend the timing of building permits for larger projects from six months to a year. She pointed out that the Town of Kinderhook and the Village of Valatie give more time for larger projects. She also said that the Village of Kinderhook only gave a three-month extension on permits due to Covid-19 but because of the pandemic, construction is taking longer. Though the board discussed having a year-long permit there was no motion on that suggestion or to extending permits due to Covid-19.

The next board meeting will be Wednesday, August 11 at 7 p.m. Information will be online at

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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